Thursday, 16 July 2020


Wouldnt it be nice

Wouldnt it be nice

Whitianga’s Graham Murrell is going to ride his Fergie 28 tractor to Bluff and a local charity is going to benefit.

Whitianga’s Graham Murrell milked cows for many, many years. And more often than not, on the farms he worked, there was a Fergie 28 - the colloquial name of the very popular tractor built in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.

"I always looked at those Fergie tractors and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to one day ride one of them all the way down to Bluff,’" said Graham.

Well, in March next year Graham is going to do it - riding a Fergie 28 from Whitianga to Bluff, along the way raising money for the work Whitianga Social Services do with the older people in our community.

"In November 2012, I bought a Fergie 28 off Graham Mansell [a long time Mercury Bay local], who’s a bit of a guru when it comes to tractors," Graham said. "She was in pretty good nick, but needed some work. I wanted to see how much of the restoration I could do using recycled materials. Now, I knew nothing about machines and engines, so it was a big challenge."

A few weeks ago the restoration work was completed. Instead of the dull grey she was when he bought her, Miss Ferguson, as Graham formally named the tractor, is now a sporty, Massey Ferguson red. She’s roadworthy, has her own tray and, in Graham’s words, "Is as reliable as a Swiss watch."

And she’s indeed a testament to what can be done with recycled materials. "I looked all over for things I could use," said Graham. "I had to re-wire Miss Ferguson and dumped extension cords came in handy for that. And I built the tray frame mostly from steel tubing I stumbled across."

Quite a bit of Kiwi-ingenuity is also built into the tractor. A Pump water bottle is the engine-breathing device. "I had a bit of trouble keeping the oil temperature down," Graham said. "I mentioned that to John Booker from Pacific Coast Marine and Mike Phear from Phearless Racing one day and they suggested fitting the water bottle with a few holes in it. And it works just fine." And when it was time to paint the trailer frame, Graham thought an anti-corrosive paint was too expensive. He had some of the coating left he used to treat some rust on Miss Ferguson. Instead of letting it go to waste, he left the trailer frame outside for a month, letting it rust away, and then applied the rust treatment coating. "And that also is working just fine,"
he said.

Talking about the tray frame, the steel Graham built it from was very hard. "I broke the one grinder blade after the other," he said. "So I decided to use a hacksaw and a bit of elbow grease to cut the tubing."

Graham decided to commence his journey in Whitianga because he wants to use the opportunity to promote Mercury Bay. "That’s why I’m not setting off from Cape Reinga or somewhere in that vicinity," he said. "That’s also why I decided to support a local charity, one which I think is doing an awesome job in our community. I want this journey to be as local as possible."

Graeme received valuable local help with his restoration of Miss Ferguson. Mitch Pascoe from H & M Pascoe made space available in his shed for the paint work that had to be done, Ian Sloane from Peninsula Small Engines was happy to sort out some really complicated technical issues and Graham Mansell was always willing to provide some sound advice.

But the focus will now be shifting to financial support for Graham’s journey and a few ideas are in the making. Signage space on the tractor and tray will go up for sale. And there’s talk of a dinner or two where Miss Ferguson will be showed off and also the opportunity for people and businesses to sponsor Graham a few cents for each, or some, of the 1,750km or so he will have to travel to get to Bluff.

Asking Jenny Wolf, the manager of Social Services, what she thought of Graeme’s idea, she said, "It’s fantastic Graham is so passionate about his tractor. We are honoured he has chosen a community support service such as ours as his preferred charity. It means the proceeds from his endeavours will remain in our area."

And asking Moira, Graham’s wife, what she thought of Graham’s idea, she said, "Oh, he’ll do it. There’s no question about that. I’m really proud of what he’s done so far and I’m proud of what he’s going to do next year."

The Informer is fully behind Graham and his upcoming adventure and will make sure all the people and businesses supporting him will get all the publicity we possibly can give them.


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